FEWER AMERICANS NOW BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has fallen from 80 to 72 percent in the past year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, even as a majority still support a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
The poll's findings -- which show 55 percent of respondents think the United States should curb its carbon output even if major developing nations such as China and India do less -- suggest increasing political polarization around the issue, just as the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are intensifying efforts to pass climate legislation and broker an international global warming pact.
The increase in climate skepticism is driven largely by a shift within the GOP. Since its peak 3 1/2 years ago, belief that climate change is happening is down sharply among Republicans -- 76 to 54 percent -- and among independents -- 86 to 71 percent. Among Democrats, support fell from 92 to 86 percent. A majority of respondents still support legislation to cap emissions and trade pollution allowances, by 53 to 42 percent.
While climate skepticism may be attributed in part to partisan politics, many believe research data about climate change has been manipulated -- a belief that has been reinforced by the recent discovery that computer hackers had obtained and disclosed e-mail correspondence of numerous climate scientists.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the most outspoken global warming skeptic in Congress, said Tuesday that he had begun an investigation into what he alleges to be the manipulation of global warming research.
He also said he wanted to look into whether the conclusions of an international panel on global warming -- and the policies based on it -- were distorted.
Inhofe, the senior Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent letters to many of the scientists whose e-mail messages were made public, and to a number of U.S. government agencies, asking them to preserve all correspondence as the first step in his investigation.
"The stakes in this controversy are significant, as it appears that the basis of federal programs, pending EPA rulemakings, and cap-and-trade legislation was contrived and fabricated," Inhofe said.